A few days before the California primary elections, documentary filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom hosted a private shopping event at Intermix in Marin County with Bay Area stylist Mary Gonsalves Kinney. The event was to benefit The Representation Project, an organization Newsom founded on the heels of her 2011 documentary, “Miss Representation,” which examined how women are portrayed in the media. The organization also started the #AskHerMore campaign on Hollywood red carpets, to encourage interviewers to ask actresses about more than what they are wearing.
These days, Newsom said, that message also applies to female political candidates. Newsom is no stranger to being in the public eye; a former actress, she is married to California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. At the event, she said more women should pursue leadership positions across all industries. “It’s critical that the female voice and female perspective, although not always aligned, has its place and is heard.”
Newsom also said she would be “thrilled” at the prospect of a female president and there was a place for both fashion and politics in public office. “There is something valuable,” she said, “about appearing professional and respectful, and representing the different cultures that you visit or representing the designers in your country. But we need to do a lot more to celebrate women’s achievements, talents and brains outside of what they look like.”
She also shared that salary transparency was another issue that had gained recognition in Hollywood but that had more far-reaching significance, and commended Bradley Cooper for endorsing the initiative. “I applaud the ceo’s outside the entertainment industry who have done the due diligence and have gone in to look at people in similar positions with similar responsibilities and talents,” she said. “Equal pay is critical, given that so many people in our country are struggling financially.”
Next on her to-do list, she said, is a new film that looks at inequality in the American dream, among other smaller films that look at the intersection of gender, race and class. “I had no interest in starting another nonprofit because there are so many organizations out there,” she said. “But I knew no one was doing what we were doing, and we’ve inspired people in a way that I’m proud of.”